Passion as Compassion

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I take a sip of my tropical drink as I minimize the numerous windows open on my tablet. I have spent the past four hours reading research for a scholarly article. A mix of salsa, club music, and intoxicated chatter drowns out the traffic that passes just a few feet beyond the patio of my neighborhood Caribbean restaurant. It’s another humid evening in Miami, but the whirling fans take the edge off the heat. What a great time to write.

I admit, this blog is my own little slice of self-indulgence. I have no intention of teaching anyone anything, or building a platform for some future enterprise. I am here because my soul loves words, and I have learned that I need to cultivate my artistic passions with the same fervor as my professional goals. I have to make a conscious effort to cling to that idea, though. I can become so singularly focused that my life narrows to a one thin shaft of purpose. That behavior serves me well when I want to achieve a particular objective, but it can also leave me lifeless and depleted.  In my quest for productivity, I can often be more compassionate with others than I am with myself.

I have always struggled with the boundaries of compassion. How much is enough? How much is too much? When does the act of compassion become the crime of enabling? I have found wisdom and comfort in the book The Wise Heart by Jack Kornfield. In his book on Buddhist psychology, he writes:

“Living with compassion does not mean we have to give away all out possessions, take in every homeless person we meet, and fix every difficulty in our extended family and community. Compassion is not co-dependence. It does not mean we lose our self-respect or sacrifice ourself blindly for others. In the West we are confused about this point. We mistakenly fear that if we become too compassionate we will be overwhelmed by the suffering of others. But this happens only when our compassion is one-sided. In Buddhist psychology compassion is a circle that encompasses all beings, including ourselves. Compassion blossoms only when we remember ourself and others, when the two sides are in harmony.” (32)

I keep the two sides in harmony by indulging in my passions: painting, writing, reading. I maintain a daily journal and an art journal. I blog, connecting with a community that understands the urge to reach out across the vast expanse of cyberspace to craft a personal space of self-expression.

Thank you for taking the time to visit. I wish you the best with your own quest for self-fulfillment.

 

Kornfield, Jack. The wise heart: a guide to the universal teachings of Buddhist psychology. New York, Bantam Books, 2009.

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